My Pepere is 83 years old. Pepere is the French Canadian word for grandfather and is pronounced Pep-ay. From the age of 12 until his mid-seventies, he smoked cigarettes. Admittedly, he smoked a lot more of them when he was younger, before the whole thing about cigarettes being deadly thing got out. Unfortunately, he lives with COPD and Emphysema most likely as a result of smoking.
Some times are better than others. Right now is not one of those times. He has a hard time when the weather turns cold and even though it was actually quite balmy by November in New England standards, it was way too cold for him. As my dad, Jacob, and aunt got him out of the car I held the container of oxygen. My dad and Jacob then had to lift/pull him up the tiny three steps leading to the front door. Three tiny steps have never been so stressful. My Pepere gripped the handles of his chair with white knuckles and tried to breathe through the oxygen tubes in his nostrils. His lungs sounded like some sort of stew bubbling and choking him from the inside.
Once in the house he relaxed a bit. We gave him some wine. He definitely liked that. And he ate like a champion. I wish we could prepare all of his food. The assisted living place he lives in is super nice. I would be greatly pleased and relieved to know that when I am frail and old I was going to live in a place that nice. But the food is regular, facility type food and when I've eaten with him I've found it to be perfectly fine but far from exciting. I can see why he'd chow down when surrounded by really good stuff.
I feel lucky to have a grandparent left. Not a lot of people my age do and mine is incredibly special to me. It hurts my heart to see him sitting with us, too tired to participate in conversation, trying to listen but clearly overwhelmed and stressed out. He wants to be out of his home so badly but when he does go out, he pays a huge price. I'm sure he went directly to bed when he got home and I don't think he'll be bothering with dinner tonight. Getting him back in the car was difficult and awkward and awful. I hated it. It made my throat ache and my mom cry.
I am so grateful that he's still here. I want him to stay forever. I know he can't but that doesn't change my wish. I hate seeing him weak, I hate seeing him hurt, yet I remain grateful he is here and he came today and we got to be with him one more Thanksgiving.